FIRST LESSON: HEBREWS 8:12
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember as more.
SECOND LESSON: LUKE 23:34
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
GOLDEN TEXT: MATTHEW 5:44
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.
Forgive another if you want salvation.
Forgiveness, The Source Of Salvation:
Brethren, if the words of God were to have an end, this gospel would rightly have been said to be the last of all gospels. It is indeed the mother of all gospels and the key to the kingdom of God.
The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ would have been in vain, both to Him and mankind, if He did not pray the Father to forgive His persecutors. This symbolic act teaches that man should always forgive his offenders. If somebody slaps you, steals your property, or lies against you, be constant in praying to God to forgive such a fellow. Whatever anybody does to you, be quick to pray for the Father's forgiveness for the person. The reason is that, if you forgive another person, God will equally forgive you.
Who is that person whose sins and iniquities are forgiven and will not be remembered by God? Who are those whose sins are not counted against them by God? These are they who hold fast unto the key to the kingdom of God, the key of forgiveness. No matter the magnitude of the error committed against you, be constant, in season and out of season, to pray to God to forgive your offenders.
If you desire to have salvation, if you desire that your sins be forgiven, sincerely ask God to forgive your offenders. In other words, let such a prayer come deep down from your heart, and it will so stand. When Stephen was being stoned to death, before he gave up the ghost, he knelt down and prayed God to forgive his enemies for they knew not what they did. Similarly, our Lord Jesus Christ did not only teach the people to practice the gospel of forgiveness, but He actually practiced it on the cross when He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Let that be your prayer at all times. By virtue of your status as a child of God and your co-habitation and interpersonal relationships with others, let those words form the foundation of your approach or reaction to all adverse situations you encounter.
No man can be justified upon his works; neither can anyone be condemned by his weaknesses. The only point of your justification or condemnation as the case may be is your willingness or refusal to forgive one another. Whether your offender comes back to you with a repentant heart, asking for forgiveness or not, be steadfast to forgive. Your conviction should always be that, your offenders are ignorant of their deeds.
You stand to be free from any problem if you practice this gospel and you shall secure your ticket into the kingdom of God. If you endeavor to implement this doctrine or policy of forgiveness, you will have no cause to quarrel or fight anybody. You will have no cause to take anybody to court, kill or begrudge another person.
The scripture says that:
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10).
It is a doctrine that requires no procedure or any hard and fast rules to practice. Be sincere in your prayer to God to forgive those who offend you and that will be done. Therefore, once you pray for the forgiveness of another person, God will, in turn, forgive you. The children of Israel wanted to obtain justification through the law, that was why they stumbled and fell but the Gentiles who sought for justification through grace obtained salvation.
It is said in the commandments: "thou shall not steal, thou shall not commit adultery," and so on. If a person should obey all other commandments but offends in one, such a person has offended in all. If the same commandment that you should not resist an evildoer also says you should not steal, do you not know that, if you do not steal but resist an evildoer, you are guilty of both? The Law of Moses says that whoever kills with any instrument commits murder and is worthy of death. Our Lord Jesus Christ came with a different view of this commandment and said that "Whoever plans evil against his brother is already guilty of murder and is worthy of death."
The Mosaic Law states that for one to be guilty of adultery the person must indulge in the very act. The commandment as amended by our Lord Jesus Christ states that whoever looks at a woman lustfully is guilty of adultery. Therefore, the moment you are angry with your brother or cast a lustful eye upon your sister, you are guilty of murder and adultery respectively. You stand equally condemned even if you have obeyed all the commandments, except one.
The advent of our Lord Jesus Christ was to open the door that was closed against His disciples and to set them free. The key our Lord Jesus Christ used to unlock the door is forgiveness. And He had handed over this same key to us as the source of salvation. To be able to have all your offenses forgiven, you must forgive another person who offends you and impute no sins upon anybody.
Once upon a time there lived a certain king who had a servant and this servant owed the king some money. One day, the king invited the debtor and requested him to redeem his indebtedness. The man pleaded insolvency and prayed the king to have mercy upon him and give him more time. The king obliged and let him off. On his way home, the man also met his debtor and instantly confronted him demanding him to settle his debt.
Meanwhile, the money he was owed was far too meager compared to the amount he owed the king. The man held his debtor by the neck and dragged him all over the place disgracefully. When the information about the attitude of this debtor towards another person owing him reached the king, he sent for him (his debtor) and got him imprisoned. For not forgiving a fellow debtor like him who even owed him a smaller amount, compared to his indebtedness to the king, the man forfeited his forgiveness. Therefore, do unto others what you would wish to be done to you.
The Israelites missed because of their refusal to practice this gospel. The distance from Egypt to Canaan is not that much, but because of the inability of the Israelites to obey the Lord and practice His gospel, it took them over 40 years to get there. Ordinances, therefore, do no good to anyone. This is so because whether or not you keep to the ordinances of any place, they can still be turned against you. Note that, if you forgive one another the same gesture will be extended to you.
If you were to know what constitutes sin, you would not hesitate to forgive your offender. If you love only those who love you and hate those that hate you, are you saved? Do you not know that whatever you do to another person, you are directly doing it to yourself? When you free others you are freeing yourself and if you curse or plan evil against another person, you are doing the same to yourself.
God finds no pleasure upon the death of the wicked. That is why He gives His grace unto those who care. For human beings the situation is different because some people rejoice over other's misfortunes. By this singular act, you are disobeying God's commandment. Read the first lesson again.
FIRST LESSON: HEBREWS 8:12
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
The Great Promise:
The above passage by implication means that whoever forgives another will be forgiven. You can have the boldness to pray to God for forgiveness only if you forgive your offender, these forms the foundation of this New Kingdom, the doctrine of forgiveness. This explains why Christ covenanted that He shall be merciful to His people and their sins and iniquities shall He remember no more. The pronouncement by our Lord Jesus Christ that the Father should forgive His killers for they know not what they do closes the old chapter of darkness and opened a new chapter of salvation unto mankind.
You get angry, hate your fellow man, and kill one another because of your inability to forgive. If you plan evil against another person and pray that he should be destroyed, the same destruction awaits you. The judgement you pronounce against another person, the same binds you. Who is that man who will have one sheep missing from his flock of hundred and he will not abandon the ninety-nine to go searching for the lost sheep? The heavens feel the pain anytime you oppress, curse, victimize, judge or do anything that causes others to be distressed. What does it profit you if you refuse to forgive your offenders? If you commit an offense and you are cast into prison, you are only reaping what you sowed.
But if you are cast into prison for no reason or for the good you did, the heavens will rejoice and your reward is great. If mankind should learn to forgive one another, the world would by now, have been problem-free for the grace of God would have been in abundance. If the habit of imputing sins upon people would cause them misfortune, no one would have any cause to report or complain about another person. This is the era for the children of God to practice the word of God.
The word of God, though it may look like a mustard seed is the source of man's salvation, and the gospel of forgiveness is the greatest of all. Now, do you not know that if you point a finger at somebody the remaining fingers point at you? Why is the world only calling Jesus, Jesus but cannot practice His commandments? Salvation does not depend only on calling upon His name but on practicing His words. He is the greatest teacher who teaches and practices what He teaches. If you claim to be His disciple why are you not a teacher too?
Whoever puts the words of God into practice the same is he that worships God in Spirit and in Truth. Therefore, he who does not only teach righteousness but practice is the true worshipper of God in Spirit and in Truth. Whoever is not deceitful and does not allow evil communication to proceed from his mouth, the same is the one who worships God in Spirit and in Truth, and these are they whose sins and iniquities have been forgiven and forgotten by God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "If your enemy is thirsty, give him water to drink and if he is hungry, give him food to eat." But when you impute sins upon another person are you not guilty of the same offense? Read the second lesson again.
SECOND LESSON: LUKE 23:24
"Then said Jesus, `Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' And they parted his raiment, and cast lots."
Under what condition or state of mind did Christ make the above statement? Was it when all was well with Him and when He was dining with His disciples? Was it when all or when His people fell down and worshipped Him loved him? Was it when His property was stolen or when His wife was seduced? Far be it. He made this plea when He was facing an awkward predicament on the cross. Who can make such a statement in such a state? He had the power to kill His killers or do what He pleased to them but He did not. Instead, He prayed the Father to forgive them.
This gospel reveals the secret of the power in Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Here, there is no fighting, no hatred, and no imputing of sins upon anyone. In life Brotherhood of the Cross and Star has never suspended or excommunicated any person. My eyes neither behold any sins or unrighteous things. I hold the same belief like the other thief on the cross who accepted his iniquities and his fate and asked the Lord to remember him in His kingdom. If you are indeed a thief, a murderer, an idolater, a fornicator among others, then you have no cause to be angry.
Why do you have to fume when you are called a sinner when indeed, you are one? Christ even advised every man to admit that he is a sinner before He uses His blood to cleanse him (the sinner). Remember the story of the publican and the Pharisee at prayer to God. The Pharisee extolled himself and paid himself tributes but the Publican quietly prayed almost inaudibly to any other person, presenting himself as a woeful sinner of no worth. Then, he obtained God's grace because of his humility.
The Bible says that whoever humbles himself will be exalted but whoever exalts himself shall be abased. Who is the person that humbles himself? He is the person who sees himself as a sinner. Who is the person who exalts himself? He is the person who is full of himself and considers himself righteous. It is therefore, because you regard yourself as a righteous man, that you impute sins upon another person and continue in sin.
Any person who sees himself as a sinner does not impute sins upon another and does not condemn anybody, no matter what any person may do to him. For that reason, Christ said, for judgement I am come into the world, that they, which see not, might see; and that they, which see, might be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin but now ye say, 'We see,' therefore your sin remaineth." (St. John 9:39-41). Can you see why man's sins have remained with him up till today?
Therefore, all those who refuse to forgive are the ones who claim to be holy and righteous. Can a thief catch a thief? Can a murderer condemn a murderer? This explains why the scripture says that there is no righteous man on earth. Rather, any man born of woman is pregnant with sins and iniquities. It is because of the sinful state of man that God instructed Abraham that a ritual (circumcision) should be performed upon any first male child born of a woman for the purpose of purification.
The reason John the Baptist was instructed to baptize with water was that many may repent and be pure. Man had been so filthy and so his baptism with water was to serve as a purification measure. When that lawyer said to Christ, "good teacher what shall I do to have eternal life," Christ told him that, "there is no one that is good except God." Now that you claim to be good, what will God regard you as? Why did Christ not order that the woman who was caught in adultery be stoned to death? You may recall the significant thing which He did. He stooped down and recorded down the sins of each of the accusers and then ordered anyone amongst them who thought himself to be righteous to cast the first stone at the woman. At this juncture, they rather departed one after the other. That was a clear indication that there is no righteous man on earth. Did you not know that if you impute sins upon another person, you are also condemning yourself? This gospel teaches love, peace, prosperity and the ability to practice every other sermon. If the entire world were to know the efficacy of this gospel and practice the same, mankind would live a problem-free life. The scripture has instructed everyone to first of all remove the scale from his eyes so that he may be able to remove a speck from his brother's eyes. If you paint your face with charcoal or black powder, would you know how you look like except you stand before a mirror? When you are well dressed and stand before a mirror would you not view your appearance differently? Read the golden text below:
GOLDEN TEXT: MATTHEW 5:44
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despiteful use you and persecute you.
The Essence of Forgiveness
The above passage constitutes the binding duty to be discharged by everybody. The only way to obtain salvation is to practice this gospel. Every man is at "the other side of the sea" because of iniquities. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who has been able to cross over to "the other side of the sea," (that of salvation) and He has given us the foundation for crossing. Your persistence in sins and claim for holiness stand between you and the kingdom of God. There is a local adage, which says that a child that prevents the mother from sleeping in the night must also stay awake.
Once upon a time, there lived a certain Bishop who presented himself as true man of God and made people to believe so. When he died, the people strongly believed that he was on his way for eternal rest after a meritorious service. When the corpse was taken for burial at the graveside he tapped from inside the coffin, causing the people to run for fear. A few people summed up courage and went back and opened the coffin to see that the man was back to life. He ordered that he should be taken back to the church. In the church, he asked the congregation whether they knew why he came back. Nobody knew. The Bishop told the people in the church that, beyond the world, people are divided into two groups the believers and the unbelievers. That when he attempted as a Bishop with his Bible and garment to join the group of believers, the usher warned him not to join the group for he was not pure. It was explained to him that he bore people malice had imputed sins upon people and had been indulging in other vices. The Bishop said then that the agony of going to join the group of unbelievers caused him to take the option of coming back to the world. The Bishop spent more than three (3) weeks to reconcile with his enemies and adversaries.
This is a great lesson for all. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EXISTANCE AS ON OPPORTUNITY TO ACQUIRE WEALTH OR ANY MATERIAL THING, BUT AS A CHANCE TO REPENT AND BE SAVED. If God were to impute sins upon man, would any person survive? If God had not turned His face against our iniquities, who would be saved? Your parents, your wife, child or money are not the things that will debar you from entering into the kingdom of God but your refusal to forgive your transgressors.
MATTHEW 5:42 states:
"Give to him that asketh thee, and from that would borrow of these turn not thou away."
If you fail in this responsibility then you are a failure. When Peter asked the Lord how many times his brother would offend him and he forgives him, whether seven times, Christ said, "Not seven times but seven times seventy times." In other words, continue to forgive your offenders as many times as they offend. If you impute sins upon another, then you have brought to nought the precious blood, which Christ shed for the world.
By imputing sins upon another person, you have condemned such a person. NOTE THAT IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO JUDGE OR AVENGE. IT IS GOD'S PREROGATIVE TO JUDGE OR AVENGE. NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS OR HOLY ENOUGH TO JUDGE, NOT EVEN THE ANGELS.
Endeavor to be your brother's keeper and know that whatever you do to one person anywhere in the world affects you too. If you pray God to forbid any bad thing from happening to you, and that God should take evil away from your present location and send such evil to distant places, are your brethren not living at the place you want the evil to be transferred to? Is that not a manifestation of selfishness and ignorance? All the people the world over, whether in America, India, Britain or Africa, are your brethren and their problems should be yours.
Take for instance, if, as a trader, you obtain some goods on credit to sell and you promise to pay the money back but you instead renege on your promise and you help yourself with the profit. For this reason a thief steals those goods, and so the problem becomes cyclical. That is so because the wholesaler from whom the retailer obtained the goods might have bought on credit from the manufacturer who must have obtained a loan from the bank to carry on the business. The bank too will be affected. Every person therefore would ultimately be affected from that theft. Can you see now why it is necessary that you show to love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you?
May God bless His Holy words. Amen.
THANK YOU FATHER.
FATHER'S SERMON DELIVERED ON THURSDAY 21/7/91